Even Patrick McEachran himself admitted he was a little surprised to see his team go on a Cinderella run at the B.C. Junior Men’s Provincial Curling Championships in Victoria this past weekend.
The Squamish resident was the skip on a team that featured three other North Shore Winter Club players and came within one point of a trip to the Canadian Junior Championships.
“I’m pretty sure if you had told us on the ferry over that we’d have been in the final that we would have been ecstatic about it,” he said.
The 19-year-old Howe Sound Secondary School (HSSS) grad formed a squad with Langley residents Dylan Heimburger and Tyler Kittle as well as North Vancouver’s Max Langlais this past September and while the chemistry wasn’t instant, it all came together at the most important tournament of the year.
“We’ve been playing well all year but not exactly at our best,” McEachran said, noting that the team had several fourth-place finishes in tour events and bonspiels throughout the Lower Mainland. “It can sometimes be hard for everyone to put it all together at the same time but when we got to Victoria, things actually started to come together for us and everyone was playing like they could.”
The team went on an impressive run in the seven-match, round-robin portion of the event, winning five of seven games and was advancing to the finals. The team started on Dec. 27 with a 6-5 win, then won twice and lost once on Dec. 28, split a pair of decisions on Dec. 29 and clinched first place in the round-robin standings with a 5-3 win last Friday (Dec. 30).
“We really played well as a team,” he said. “In the round robin we beat the three big teams (Nillson, Klymchuk and Hozack) and those were teams we hadn’t beaten all year. We haven’t really beaten those teams all year and the fact that we beat them straight off the bat was great.”
McEachran and his teammates ended up meeting the aforementioned Hozack team in the final on Saturday (Dec. 31) but dropped a narrow 3-2 decision to the Victoria-based club.
Curling has been a passion for McEachran from a young age and he was a key part of several strong HSSS curling teams in the past.
“My dad is a big curler and he sort of got me into the whole curling scene,” he said. “Way back in Grade 8, I was put on a team at HSSS and we went to the provincials four years in a row. We came in second a couple of times and we were a force to be reckoned with in our zone. When I got out of high school, I wanted to keep playing and had to go look for a team and got on at the North Shore Winter Club.”
Curling offered McEachran a chance to continue playing competitive sports and offered him athletic opportunities.
“I was a kid who did every single sport imaginable when I was younger,” he said. “But in high school when I saw how well we did at the provincials and that this was a sport I could be good at, I decided to keep playing.”
McEachran, a full-time student at the University of British Columbia, said it can be difficult to find a balance between curling and schoolwork but that he loves the sport.
“It’s a little tough because we’ve got a heavy schedule for the early part of the year with a bonspiel every other week and a couple of practices each week,” he said. “But it’s not impossible as long as you do your work.”
With the busy part of the curling season behind him, McEachran said he’s not sure what his schedule will look like for the spring but he looks forward to keeping the team together for one last run as a junior.
“Twenty-twelve is my last year to do juniors so I want to hold out one more year,” he said with a chuckle. “After I was this close to the nationals, it would be hard to give it up now.”
For full results from the weekend’s tournament, visit www.playdowns.com.